People become vegetarians for many different reasons, and there are several different types of vegetarians. Although weight training has traditionally been associated with a high-protein, meat-centred diet, an increasing number of weightlifters and bodybuilders have adopted vegetarianism in one form or another, as it can provide them with all the nutrients they need without the risk of the unhealthy side effects associated with eating large amounts of meat.
The most common type is lacto-ovo vegetarians, who eat eggs and dairy products as well as vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, legumes, kelp, and other members of the vegetable kingdom. Pesco vegetarians also eat fish and seafood. Vegans eat nothing derived from any member of the animal kingdom, including honey. Other, smaller subtypes also exist. Obviously, the nutrition that athletes can receive from each of these diets is different, so the supplements they should use – and the supplements their diets permit – differ.
This is particularly obvious in regard to protein. Such plant products as soy, whole-grain rice, yellow peas, and buckwheat provide nutritionally complete proteins, and many other plant-sourced foods do so in combination. Vegan muscle builders do, however, need to eat more of such foods to consume an adequate [i]quantity[/i] of protein, and are likely to need such supplements as soy, rice, or pea protein products. Lacto-ovo vegetarians also can get protein from eggs and dairy products, and can take whey protein supplements if they’re not allergic to milk. Pesco vegetarians, of course, can eat the highest-quality protein available. Mussels build muscles.
Vegetarian diets also tend to include less-than-optimal amounts of creatine, an amino acid that helps to provide muscles with energy. The body produces creatine in insufficient amounts for weight training, and meat from vertebrates is its only dietary source. Both lacto-ovo vegetarians and vegan athletes therefore need to take a creatine supplement, and pesco vegetarians should also consider taking one despite the presence of creatine in fish. Vegan muscle-builders also need to take such branch-chain amino acid supplements as leucine, which is necessary for stimulating the synthesis of muscle protein.
All types of vegetarian diets, furthermore, are likely to provide insufficient amounts of zinc, iron, calcium, and some vitamins, although dairy products do provide sufficient B-12, so vegetarian muscle-builders also need to take a properly constituted multivitamin and mineral supplement daily, and vegans need a B-12 supplement.
Whatever type of vegetarianism muscle-builders follow, wise ones will consult with a qualified nutritionist to develop their personal optimum diet, which supplements they should use, and the quantity of those supplements.
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